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New research study from the CSA, France’s TV regulator, reveals that IPTV is close to surpassing DTT as the principal mode of TELEVISION reception in French living-rooms.

According to the most recent quarterly edition of the CSA’s Observatoire de l’equipement audiovisual des foyers (‘ Family TV equipment screen’), 43.4% of the country’s main TV sets got their broadcast TV signal through an ADSL or fibre link from an Internet service provider in Q2 2016, against 45.2% through a roof-top aerial.

Due to the fact that classifications overlap, * Percentages include up to > 100%.
** All houses receiving TV by means of ADSL or fiber from an ISP.

Arguably, IPTV would probably have actually surpassed DTT in Q2 2016 on this step had it not been for France’s ‘second switchover’, in which DTT signals in the MPEG-2 format were switched off overnight from the 4th to the 5th of April, transitioning France’s terrestrial platform to an all-MPEG-4 environment (see the previous story).

This is perhaps unexpected. Mandated switchovers– whether from analog to digital, or as in this case, from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4– represent an opportunity, if not an incentive, for customers not only to upgrade their TV viewing equipment but to switch to a different platform.

In both France and the UK, for example, analog switchover was followed by a reduction in the percentage of DTT-only houses. When analog TV was switched off in the UK) and 2014, Ofcom’s newest figures show that DTT-only homes fell from 11.02 m to 10.46 m in between 2012.

The primary recipient appears to have been the free-to-air satellite platform Freesat, which saw its numbers increase from 1.76 m to 2.04 m over the exact same duration.

The figures have stabilized given that, however, the UK’s DTT-only platform is still behind where it stood in 2012.

In France, the portion of DTT-only homes had actually already started decreasing a year before analog switch off occurred there, in November 2011, having reached a peak of 67% in 2010. Here, IPTV appears to have been the primary recipient, but– as Table 1 shows– its apparently inexorable progress ground to a halt in Q2 2016 and went into reverse.

Perhaps this was to do with the fact that France’s 2nd switchover involved an upgrade from SD to HD on the DTT platform (traditionally, MPEG-2 had actually been mandated as the standard for standard-definition terrestrial TV broadcasts, with MPEG-4 booked for HD).

Broadband speeds have been increasing rapidly in France, in part due to a speeding up fiber rollout, the CSA references in its report figures from the telecoms regulator, ARCEP, that reveal that over 40% of broadband connections are considered too slow to support TELEVISION viewing (ARCEP places the vital limit at 8Mbit/s, to allow for telephony and Web gain access to alongside TELEVISION).

Most likely, an even smaller sized percentage have the ability to support HD.
After over a year of government-supported marketing messages under the motto ‘Tous à la TNT Haute Définition” (” Let’s all move to High-Definition DTT”), possibly it’s not that unexpected, after all, that customers chosen to upgrade to HD on their existing DTT installations instead of signing up with the rush for IPTV.

As France’s broadband speeds continue to progress, nevertheless, it most likely will not be long before IPTV is once again tough DTT as the main TV shipment platform on French homes’ principal Television Set.

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